Monday, June 27, 2016

you'll never believe what's happening to your favorite cooking sites!!!

Hello, I'm here to complain again!

I'm tired of the Buzzfeed-ification of what used to be my favorite cooking website: The Kitchn. They post like 15+ posts a day, and I used to read almost all of them. They had delicious-sounding recipes, informative tips, and these great weekly meditation pieces on Sunday mornings that were kind of philosophical about cooking. Sounds like voodoo, but they were great.

Now, we have this stellar content:

Serious Journalism Alert: A Guide to the Flavors of Pop Rocks (actually I kind of want to read this but only ironically you guys)
9 Essential YA Series to Read on the Beach This Summer (what....does this even have to do with food?)
4 Steps to a Pristine Picnic Table (??? please I'm dying to know how to sanitize a picnic table tell me more now)
What Bizarre Thing Should We Spiralize on Facebook Live? (nothing. you should spiralize nothing, and you should stay the heck away from facebook live.)

And like every other article has a number in it:

5 tips for this...27 side dishes for that...7 ways to...a 3 ingredient...4 steps to...[pristine picnic table!]

My other favorite cooking sites (Serious Eats, Food52) have generally managed to save their dignity and avoid the clickbait-y-ness but all of them are falling into Pinterest-ification. All of their front pages are just a matrix of food pictures, which, I can't believe I'm complaining about, but for some reason I hate it. It's overwhelming and confusingly ugly. I need more words!

ALSO: huge pet peeve of reading ANY online article, not limited to food sites: ads in the middle that make me think the article's abruptly over when it's not. It's so distracting and makes me feel like my attention span is even shorter than it is. I get that people need to get paid somehow but...can we just put all the ads at the beginning of an article or something? I would much rather just get them all out of the way at first so that I can seamlessly read. I especially hate it when the interrupting ad is a link to another article on the site. Why are you sabotaging your own content? Now you've ruined my experience of reading your article by trying to interrupt me and have me read something else. Why? Can't I finish reading your own article in peace?

Disclaimer: I know nothing about what drives online clickzz, and there are probably valid reasons for all of these things. (If you know what they are, enlighten me!) I freely admit to sucking the fun out of most things-don't get me started on superhero movies.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

mmmmmm

I've been holding out on you. Aaron and I have made some pretty delicious things lately which I have yet to share on my neglected blog. This changes TODAY.

I got over my peanut-butter-is-too-expensive-to-use-in-cookies thing and made these peanut butter cookies from Smitten Kitchen. They have 5 ingredients, and you can be eating them in less than an hour (most of which is hands-off oven or chilling time). They've nearly replaced these brownies as my go-to "I need a dessert now, and I already ate all the chocolate chips I've been hoarding in the freezer". 

Did you need a black bean burger recipe? Because I have one for you! This comes from America's Test Kitchen, which you'll need to have a login to see and the recipes will disappear unless you get a paid subscription after the current season has passed. So I've brought it here to you!

2 cans (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 scallions, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional, but I'd recommend it)
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ounce tortilla chips, crushed coarse (1/2 cup)
8 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 hamburger buns



  • Instructions

  • 1. Dry your black beans for ~15 min by putting them on a baking sheet lined with a triple layer of paper towels.
  • 2. Whisk together the eggs and flour to form a paste. Add in the scallions, cilantro, garlic, cumin, hot sauce (if using), coriander, salt, pepper. Mix well.
  • 3. Crush up tortilla chips into a fine powder using a food processor, about 30 seconds (you could also probably just smash them up in a plastic bag if you don't have a food processor, just make sure they're pretty finely crushed). Add in the black beans and pulse 5 times to combine. Combine the black bean mixture with the egg/spice mixture and refrigerate for at least an hour. (This helps make it easier to handle the burgers because the mixture will be pretty loose at this point. That being said, Aaron and I were too hungry to wait every time we've made these, so we skipped straight to the cooking part and it worked out just fine.)
  • 4. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions, forming patties 3.5" in diameter. You can wrap the patties in plastic wrap and freeze them for later if you want, as long as you thaw them out before cooking.
  • 5. Heat a couple teaspoons of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil's hot, cook three patties at a time. Cook 5 minutes on one side, until the bottom's brown and crisp, and then flip them and cook for another 3-5 minutes (whenever the other side is also brown and crisp). 
  • 6. EAT. Love them so much you don't even care they're not beef. My favorite way to top these is with cheese (put a slice on when you're cooking the second side), barbecue sauce, and guacamole. Mmmm happiness.

  • And your final food recommendation also comes from America's Test Kitchen, but this recipe link should work: bolognese sauce. You're going to need meatloaf mix (pork + beef + veal) for it, and I wouldn't recommend subbing just ground beef or ground turkey (we almost always sub any ground meat for turkey in other recipes, but it doesn't turn out nearly as good here). It's worth it. You can, however, sub out the white wine for chicken stock and it will still taste fantastic.


  • Besides these few standouts we've sort of been in a rut lately. We decided we should actually cook more out of the cookbooks we own, so there will probably be some more Smitten Kitchen recipes showing up here in the future. Got any recipes you're loving these days?

    Sunday, May 1, 2016

    mandatory sprinkles

    I did it. I bought all that random stuff on Amazon, and I made this cake:


    It tasted as good as it looks, which was a good thing because it was kind of a pain to make. But not so much of a pain that I didn't try doing a chocolate/caramel spin on it for Aaron's birthday this month!



    I'm 27 years old now, and that's starting to sound a little bit old to me. I'm not in my early twenties anymore–this is pretty solidly in the mid- to late-twenties now. Or at least 27 is starting to creep up on the age when I thought I would have things mostly figured out, like skin care, maybe having a signature perfume scent, or at least knowing how to fold a fitted sheet. You know, all the important things in life. 

    [An aside: how come only women have to worry about wearing makeup to disguise/even out their complexion and men don't?? Or worry about applying non-wrinkle serum? Or eye cream? What is with that? Also, WHAT IS EYE CREAM? I legitimately don't know what its purpose is.] 

    At this point in my life, I'm mostly okay with calling people I don't know on the phone, eating fish, disagreeing with people out loud and not just in my head in Sunday School, sending professional emails, and driving on the freeway.

    I still don't like shellfish, but I guess that's what the next 60 years of my life are for. That, and learning about eye cream. And making more cake. Can't go wrong with a life full of cake, now can you? 

    Monday, February 15, 2016

    night float

    I stay up as late as possible, reading until I can't keep my eyes open anymore.
    That way, I minimize time spent alone in the dark lying awake in bed, freaking out about every creak and imagined burglar. After finally falling asleep (sometimes with the light on), I get up at 6:30 AM so I can shower before Aaron gets home just after 7:00 AM. We meet in the kitchen. He asks me about my day, I ask him about his night. I run through my list of things I wanted to tell him but couldn't because he was asleep when they happened (picked up that Amazon package! did you see that link on Facebook? guess what crazy thing my labmate said yesterday!). Opening the fridge, I point out the leftover dinner I made that he will eat, 20 hours off from me. While he puts on an eye mask and climbs into bed, I pull on my backpack and walk to school. Later, he'll get to the hospital before I leave to come home, make dinner only one of us will eat fresh, and read. Lather, rinse, repeat. Two weeks.

    Not exactly ideal circumstances for Valentine's Day, but it reminds me how much I love Aaron and how much better life is when we get to hang out for longer than 30 minutes a day. Last night was number 14, so 'til next time, night float.

    Can't for next time to be non-existent.

    Friday, February 5, 2016

    [fairly empty] thoughts about dessert

    I've been accidentally collecting unfrosted cake recipes lately, like this double vanilla butter cake, ooey gooey double baked chocolate cake ("ooey gooey"? ugh, come on, Food52), and this grapefruit curd in grapefruit cake.

    I actually made the double vanilla butter cake tonight and in case you were wondering, can I forget to mix the sugar with the eggs at the beginning and not realize it until I've already added all of the other ingredients and still get a decent cake? Yes, you can! I tested out that scenario just for you! Your cake will be about half the height of the cake in the picture and therefore twice as dense, but it will still taste okay!

    This will sound like a stupid idea coming off of that failure, but I also decided I want to tackle a Milk Bar cake sometime soon. Probably the birthday cake. I'm debating whether it's worth forking over a bunch of money on Amazon for 1) glucose 2) acetate strips 3) quarter sheet pan 4) 6" cake rings 5) more sprinkles. I was already going to buy myself sprinkles for my birthday, but glucose? When am I ever going to use glucose again unless I bake more Milk Bar cakes?

    Not cake, but these salted peanut butter cookies look amazing. However, any recipe with significant amounts of peanut butter, maple syrup, honey, or Nutella makes me hesitate because that stuff is not cheap. And if we're buying peanut butter it's because Aaron eats a peanut butter sandwich almost every day for lunch (he's a champion of food monotony), not for a batch of cookies we'll devour in a couple days. This is when I'll know we've made it: when I can nonchalantly pick up an extra thing of peanut butter at the grocery store for cookies I'm making on a whim with no purpose or event in mind.

    Speaking of cookies, I got a cookie scoop for Christmas, and it is a life changer. I want to make drop cookies all the time now because cookies obviously, but also because using that scoop is so fun. It magically makes my cookies turn out much better to boot. I've been biased against cookie scoops in the past because I've always thought of them as ice cream scoops, and they suck at scooping ice cream. But, it turns out when you use them for their actual purpose, they work great! Who would've thought?

    You'd think that after such a long gap between posts I'd return with something meaningful or interesting to say buuuuut nope! CAKES AND COOKIES. The important things in life.

    Saturday, December 19, 2015

    the best part of the christmas story is the glowstick party at the end

    I know I've posted this video before, but this is still my favorite version of the Christmas story (as told/acted by adorable New Zealand children):


    There's a line where one of the girls says in this perfectly accented little voice, "They call the baby Jesus. And they loved Him. He has two daddies: God and Joseph. They both needed to look after the baby." Something about the way she says that gets me every time! I almost can't watch it without crying. 

    I like thinking about tiny baby Jesus. He was the all-powerful Son of God and yet He was willing to be born, just like any other person, as a helpless baby. "Behold the condescension of God!" almost isn't strong enough to describe it. It took more humility and love for humankind than I can imagine to do that. I also like thinking about both of Jesus's fathers rooting for Him and doing what they could to "look after the baby." It reminds me that God is looking after me. 

    Just something I've been thinking about lately. Merry Christmas, guys. 

    Saturday, November 21, 2015

    a couple of things to get off my chest on a saturday night

    1) No, I don't know when I'm going to graduate, and no, I don't have any babies. Also, if everyone on Facebook could just stop doing actual adult things like buying houses and having a semblance of a  career, that'd be great, thanks.

    2) Medical training sucks, and I hate it.

    ETA: alternate titles for this post include "the bitter 5th year of grad school", "yes, i'm a selfish, sad person who currently can't find happiness in anyone else's success", "intern year night float: worse than expected!", and probably most appropriate: "i need more sleep"

    Saturday, October 31, 2015

    letting go

    A little while ago, my grandma died.

    Typing that out almost three months later still feels so strange to me, because she had lived so long I almost believed she was immortal. Many things have changed in my life over the past few years, but my grandma–sharp as ever, living in Burbank with the orange vinyl kitchen and the pingpong table in the backyard–was a constant.

    These are the little things that as a granddaughter I remember: she was an avid Dodgers fan and kept score of every game. She had the best jewelry and always picked out the best clothing gifts for me and my sisters. There was a mega-sized amethyst ring kept in her drawer that I always thought was the epitome of glamour. She taught me how to play cards and was awesome at solitaire. Her house contained a seemingly endless supply of caffeine-free Diet Coke and fascinating magazines, both of which I took full advantage every summer we visited.

    My grandma was as feisty as her bright red hair, which she continued to dye even as she reached her 90s. She was generous and sassy and fiercely independent. She loved music and taught piano lessons for years and years at the beautiful black grand piano in her living room. Every Christmas she'd play The March of the Toys as all the grandkids stomped around. She took us to see The Lion King musical and Romeo and Juliet the ballet and Josh Groban (!) at the Hollywood Bowl. When I was in 9th grade, I performed at Disneyland with the ballroom dance team. Grandma drove all the way down there and paid the steep entrance fee to come watch me dance.

    Though she won't be physically present anymore, her memory will remain a constant reminder: do good and be involved; keep things feisty.

    I love you, Grandma. 'Til we meet again.